Aviation to Thailand
Trends and opportunities
The Asia-Pacific region is an important center for the commercial aviation
industry, with annual passengers expected to reach 1.8 billion passengers
by 2035. (Source: IATA
forecast passenger demands
Within this, Thailand is a major aviation hub due to its strategic location
in the centre of ASEAN and its large and growing tourism industry.
Thailand has 54 civil and military airports, operated by different agencies
and private companies.
There are six main airports in Thailand, which are operated by Airports of
Thailand Public Company (AOT). The main international airport is
Suvarnabhumi, followed by Don Mueang (a major low-cost international
airline hub), and then the regional international airports of Chiang Mai,
Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai. Together these serviced 790,354 flights
(increased 8.60 per cent YOY), 121.7 million passengers (increased 10.83 per cent YOY) and
1.454 million tonnes freight and mail (increased 7.67 per cent YOY) in 2016.
67.31 per cent of international passengers travel through Suvarnabhumi, while
43.76 per cent of domestic passengers travelled through Don Mueang Airport.
Secondary commercial airports are operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. Other airports are operated by private companies and
government agencies including: The Royal Thai Air Force; The Royal Thai
Navy; Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation; The Royal
Thai Army; the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand; and Bangkok Airways. Some airports are jointly operated and used for military
and civil purposes, for example Don Mueang International Airport and
AOT predicts passenger traffic through these airports to grow by 8 to 9 per cent in
2017, with foreign visitors expected to reach 35 million in 2017, up from
32.5 million in 2016, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
This growth in demand for passenger and freight services from Thailand has
resulted in significant pressure on the sector, which is driving demand
across a broad range of aviation and aerospace products and services. This
includes for training and education across practically all areas of the
aviation workforce; plus maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO)
infrastructure and capability.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), aviation companies,
education institutes and airport operators are either conducting their own
education programs or looking for reliable partners to improve safety and
other standards for supporting Thailand’s aviation industry growth.
Aviation is one of five industries promoted under Thailand’s economic
development plan, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) which includes an
Aerospace Industrial Estate Development Plan -or Aerospace Industry Cluster
–to be developed around U Tapao – Pattaya International Airport, which has
begun operation as Thailand’s new international airport serving the greater
The Aerospace Industrial Estate Development Plan aims to develop the
aerospace component industry, significantly expand maintenance repair and
overhaul (MRO) centres, and develop new training centres at U-Tapao, which
is located in the Royal Thai Naval Base, Sattahip (close to Pattaya) and
where significant investments by major aviation component manufacturers and
MRO centres will be located.
Aerospace Component Industry
The Aerospace Industry Cluster Project is supported by Thailand’s Board of
Investment (BOI) which offers investment incentives. This has already
attracted global aviation companies including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Triumph
Aviation Services, Chromalloy and Senior Aerospace to Thailand.
The aerospace component industry will focus on manufacturing components for
airframe, engines and some other components. Top five aerospace components
the BOI is promoting are 1) landing gear wheels, 2) auxiliary power units
(APUs), 3) In-flight entertainment complex, 4) engine fuel and control, and
5) landing gears.
Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
THAI Technical, the MRO division of Thai Airways International is leading
the Thai government’s MRO Centre development project at U-Tapao Airport.
Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thai Airways to
evaluate the development of a new regional maintenance and overhaul (MRO)
facility. Airbus is looking to use the MRO centre at U-Tapao to support
fast-growing demand for servicing low-cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific
Military Aviation - There are opportunities to provide MRO services and
supply spare parts to smaller aircraft of the Royal Thai Military and other
Thai government agencies. The majority of military aircraft in Thailand are
aged and require full MRO and life-extending services.
There is growing demand for aviation training programs in Thailand.
There are currently 26 education institutes in Thailand offering aviation
training programs and the Office of the Vocational Education Commission
(OVEC) under the Ministry of Education has expanded its aircraft
maintenance training centers from 2 to 6 locations in response to growing
demand for aircraft maintenance technicians. Despite this increase in
locations, Thailand only has capacity to train 180 technicians per year -
still not enough to catch up with rising demand which is for around 500
technicians / year to meet the needs of the aircraft industry. OVEC has
plans to open more aircraft maintenance training centres in provinces that
have airports, but a shortage of qualified teachers in aerospace
engineering is limiting further expansion.
Opportunities for Australian organisations and education providers include
- Airport management
- Airport safety
- Consultancy services (147 EASA requirement) including safety standards,
technical skills, etc.
- Curriculum and training program development
- English for Aviation Industry courses
- Further aviation courses in specific areas such as avionics and other
areas that Australia can offer
- Ground services
- Internships and student exchange programs
MRO services up to A Check
- MRO services and spare parts supplies for military and government owned
- Safety training in accordance with ICAO’s and EASA’s standards
- Technical and knowledge training program for instructors/teachers
Three main regulators of the Thai aviation industry are:
Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)
CAAT is an independent agency of the Thai government responsible for
prescribing, regulating, safety licensing and auditing of the Thai civil
aviation industry endorsed by ICAO.
Aviation companies and individuals who wish to work in the Thai aviation
industry must be certified by CAAT. Other aviation safety licenses such as
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) or Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) can be converted to a CAAT
license but additional examination is required.
Its role and responsibilities also include: implementing the Air Navigation
Act; promoting and developing national civil aviation; executing orderly
civil aviation; making airports available to the public; and coordinating
and cooperating with domestic and international organisations.
Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (AEROTHAI)
Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd (Aerothai) is a Government Enterprise
under the Ministry of Transport and Communications which provides air
traffic control and aeronautical communication services for airline
Key Roles and Responsibilities of AEROTHAI include:
- Air traffic management (ATM) within the Bangkok Flight Information Region
(Bangkok FIR) for the safety and efficiency of flights of Thailand’s
- Communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) systems and services
- Aeronautical information services (AIS) and aeronautical charts
Civil Aviation Training Centre (CATC)
CATC is a division within the Department of Aviation, Ministry of Transport
responsible for producing and developing personnel for the Thai aviation
industry. CATC is ICAO’s approved training organisation, provides training
programs in aircraft maintenance, aircraft services and other
CATC’s roles also include providing support to the operations of the Civil
Aviation Authority of Thailand in accordance with the government policy
that complied with ICAO Annexes to the Convention on International Civil
Aviation, and providing assessment and approval of applications for
personnel licenses as designated.
Airline operators normally have contracts with aircraft manufacturers for
air frame and aircraft engine repairs. Only recurring maintenance and
regular checks are done by air carriers or their sub-contractors. However,
there are still windows of opportunities for Australian companies to supply
spare parts and provide MRO services to military and government aircraft,
and to indirectly provide other services in the market through OEM
manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus. The use of local agents is a
common feature of sourcing by military and government agencies in Thailand.
Thai aviation industry is more familiar with EASA and FAA licenses than
CASA due to originated countries of aircraft and engine manufacturers, and
flying destinations. To market Australian aviation products, services and
training programs into Thailand, EASA or FAA licenses would be an advantage
and is in many cases, essential.
Accessing opportunities in the Thai aviation industry, following options
should be considered:
- Establish relationships with aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturers
such as Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Pratt and Whitney, etc. for becoming
- Develop partnerships with local MRO centres
Appoint a local sole agent/distributor who are existing suppliers of
airlines, aviation companies and defence forces
Collaborate with aviation training organisations and education
institutions in Thailand
Links and industry contacts
Government, business and trade
Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Limited
Airports of Thailand Public Company
Australian Embassy Bangkok
Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce
Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand
Civil Aviation Training Center of Thailand
Ministry of Commerce
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Transport
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Office of the Board of Investment
Royal Thai Customs Department
Royal Thai Air Force
Stock Exchange of Thailand
Thai Airways International
Thai Chamber of Commerce
Tourism Authority of Thailand
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